The role that propelled Vin Diesel into the limelight was that of Richard
Riddick, a psychotic killer who can see in the dark, in the 1999 sleeper
hit, Pitch Black. That film featured a somewhat interesting plot gimmick
and a fair amount of action to tell its tale of the anti-hero Riddick.
Now, five years later, Diesel returns to the role of Riddick in The
Chronicles of Riddick which veers away from Pitch Black's sci-fi/horror trappings
into a planet hopping space-epic. Pitch Black was a low-budget affair
with relatively few special effects but The Chronicles of Riddick is an
overblown CGI fan's wet dream.
Chronicles of Riddick (2004)
Starring: Vin Diesel, Colm Feore, and Thandie
Five years after escaping death
in Pitch Black, Riddick is evading mercenaries trying to claim a large
bounty that's been placed on his head. It turns
out that the bounty has been placed by someone trying to recruit Riddick
to fight the Necromongers, a collection of "half alive, half dead" warriors
led by the Lord Marshal (Colm Feore). Riddick, who never seems to fight
for reasons other than his own, refuses the offer until, of course, the
fight becomes personal. Various circumstances find Riddick traveling to
a hellish planet aptly named Cremetoria and finding Kyra, the young girl
from Pitch Black, although she's now older and much more lethal.
Chronicles of Riddick is a true epic in terms of ideas. The execution,
however, leaves a little to be desired. The action sequences, for some
reason, are filmed in a disjointed, time-expanding, slow-motion that neither
creates suspense or enhances the impact of what's going on. It merely
confuses things by keeping the viewer from being able to put together
a cohesive picture of what's happening until the film resumes normal speed
and the results are displayed. For a movie that's made up of a large number
of violent scenes, this is not a good thing.
After watching films that are so totally devoid of even a single original
idea that they just slop CGI effects onto the screen with sheer abandon
in a vain attempt to wow viewers into liking something about the movie
-- like Van Helsing -- I liked the fact that Riddick didn't take itself
seriously but still managed to keep things moving in a direction that
I cared enough to find out where it was going. I didn't even mind that
the film introduces characters and then doesn't seem to know what to do
with them, like the Elemental Aereon, played by Judi Dench, and the little
girl Ziza that seems to warm up to Riddick at the beginning of the film.
Nonetheless, I walked away from The
Chronicles of Riddick appreciating
more than I could complain about. It's not great, but you could do much
worse for a summer film.
Diesel wanted Judi Dench to play Aereon, and went to great lengths
to get her. A long-time fan of Dench, he had her dressing room filled
with bouquets of flowers, and also advised her that they could not
begin casting the movie until she agreed to accept the role. (Source: The
Internet Movie Database)